Vehicle swerving and a sudden drop in speed shying away from the bumps and potholes on the 7 meter two way Harare-Beitbridge road had become a routine experience for motorists using the busy highway.
For the unlucky speeding motorists who are not familiar with the road they lose control of their vehicles leading to horrific accidents, sometime fatal. The road had become a death trap due to its dilapidated state leaving trail of ruthless memories to many families who have lost their loved ones.
The nerve-wrecking experience will soon be a thing of the past as the Government has embarked on the rehabilitation and upgrading of the highway.
The project which consists of phased rehabilitation and widening of the existing road will see the road being expanded from the current seven metres width to Southern Africa Transport and Communications Commission (SATTC) standard of 12, 5 metres width.
Information Publicity and Broadcastings Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa admitted the road had become a death trap hence the upgrade to SATCC standards.
“The Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare road had become a death trap considering it has exceeded its design life of twenty (20) years by forty (40) years. The road is being rehabilitated and upgraded in line with SATCC standards. The road is being widened from the current 7 metres to 12, 5 metres.” said Minister Mutsvangwa
National Transport Drivers Association (NTDA) president Jotina Matanhire said the road rehabilitation project will go a long way in reducing road accidents.
“We welcome the Government’s initiative as it will go a long way in reducing road carnage and hope that motorists will observe speed limits imposed on the road to avoid loss of lives and damage of property,” said Matanhire
Motorists who spoke to 263chat applauded the road rehabilitation saying it was long overdue.
“The upgrading of the road is something that we have been yearning for since time immemorial. It had become boring to drive along this road because it was time consuming as well as a death trap due to the bumpy patches on the road.
“Imagine trying to avoid the potholes encroaching into the other lane where someone is speeding, it is by the grace of God that I have not been involved in an accident. The road works currently taking place are most welcome,” said Taurai Musasiwa a haulage truck driver.
Carrington Gwande a driver with a local bus company said the Covid-19 induced lockdown came as a blessing in disguise as there was progress on the road.
“The lockdown brought new things behind the scenes, little did people know about the progress on the Harare-Beitbridge road. It will certainly bring order on the road hopefully the rehabilitation will be complete soon” said Gwande
Passenger Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) president Tafadzwa Goliati said the dualisation of the road was welcome as it will reduce accidents.
“The dualisation of the Harare-Beitbridge road was long overdue and is a welcome development and we are anticipating that it will be done in line with international standards as it will reduce road accidents.
“We are also appealing to the government to put warning signs or lights on those areas that are deemed black spots so that motorists exercise caution when approaching them,” said Goliati.
In his 2021 budget presentation Finance and Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said the Government will prioritise road development under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
“Significant resources will go towards the Harare-Beitbridge Project, consistent with the target to complete an additional 200 km in 2021 that should enable overall completion of the project in 2022.” said Minister Ncube
He said investments under the Road Development Programme will be prioritized in 2021, with overall support going towards the roads sub-sector amounting to ZWL$31.6 billion.
The minister said a fiscal amount of ZWL$31.6 billion and resources of ZWL$24.1 billion, Road Fund interventions (ZWL$6 billion) and development partner support resources (ZWL$24.1 billion) and development partner support of ZWL$629 million will be channeled towards the road development programme.
The Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge stretch was contracted out to five local companies. Each company was allocated 20 km under Phase 1, which has since been completed.
The companies are now working on the second stretch of 20 km under Phase 2 which is earmarked for completion in February 2021. A total of 132 km out of the expected 200 km has been completed to date.
It would be noble to ensure that the road is speedily completed to allow for the smooth flow of traffic following the removal of life-threatening obstacles like potholes and damaged road surfaces.